I did a scary thing. I auditioned for a show in which you read the words you wrote. Like, in front of people. On a stage. And before you can do that you read it in front of the showrunners who decide if your piece fits. And when you go to do this you sit outside the audition room with your printed copies and you make small talk with the other people auditioning and you have to tell them that this is your second time trying to do it which makes you feel like a loser even though you told yourself all the right (and true) things about how rejection is good and it didn’t mean you aren’t a good writer and blah blah blah.
So for the second time, I wrote my little heart out onto 2 pages and brought them in to share them with these lovely, kind, supportive women who have to make the excruciating decision as to which stories to pick. I wrote and re-wrote and scratched that and re-wrote again. I wrestled with an overwhelming sense of self-consciousness and walked away from it until I could get over my hyper-analyzing. It wasn’t easy last year; it was even harder this year.
Audition day came and my husband and I loaded up the kids and treated ourselves to coffee and hot cocoa. “It’s good for them to see you do something like this,” he said. Last year’s disappointment made this year’s attempt harder, but more life-lesson-y. Do hard things, kids; if at first, you don’t succeed and all that. It’s nice when motherhood gives you balls.
I got there early: a clear sign of my nerves and the anxiety tagging along as I followed the signs to the waiting area. My turn came up and I went in and did not throw up, thank you. I walked out shaky, but satisfied. Getting in mattered, but my words did me proud regardless. They marched out like little soldiers into the world and they said just what I needed them to say. Good job, letter-babies.
I sent a text to my husband, “Done. On my way out.” Our ugly red van pulled up to the curb and the moment the door broke it’s seal, I heard them.
“WOO!! GO MOM!! YOU DID IT!!”
My husband led a wild chorus of tiny voices in utter celebration: my two-year-old with a wide open mouth and smile-squinted eyes, my daughter with loud hoots and made-up chants, my rascally son who still says my name in a way that belies his tender heart. They clapped and cheered as if I’d just come in first place in a marathon. Uninhibited, their applause scared my nerves away and ushered in a gratitude which spilled out in laughing tears.
Because that is everything I want. For my babies, for my friends, for the various people I love, for myself. That van was It on wheels that day. I went out into the world and did a big, scary thing and then I came back to my family whose support I’d taken with me, whose belief in my enough-ness sustained me when I needed to muster.
I want that to be us, always. That when one of us says, “I want to try,” the rest of us say, “we got you.” That we show up for each other at games and recitals and youtube channels, in the fleeting moments of gumption and creativity between chores. That we appreciate what is worth celebrating because of the courage it took, not the attention it gets.
So whether I make it into the show or not, my family made that day a win. Their genuine enthusiasm and pride made me proud, too. Of myself and of the culture we are creating together. We are far, far, far from perfect, but we love big and we cheer loud and we turn on the hazards in downtown traffic to celebrate each other.
Update: I did get in!!! I am ecstatic to share that I will be reading my piece in the 2018 Listen To Your Mother show in Spokane on May 13, 2018 (Mother’s Day)! Ticket sales will go up soon if you want to come out – it is expertly curated to be a beautiful, funny, heartfelt ode to motherhood in various forms and has become a beloved local tradition. Leave a comment if you’ve been or plan on going! Hope to see you there!